Views sought 100-home masterplan for Winnersh Farm development

WINNERSH residents can comment on the plans for a new school and up to 100 homes at Winnersh Farm.

Although two separate planning applications, the masterplan combines a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) school and 100 homes.

The application for homes is due to be submitted this summer, and the school application this spring.

“In early 2020 we identified Winnersh Farm as a site for new housing and consulted on this use in the Local Plan Update,” Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development said. “Since then we’ve carried out a thorough assessment of the site, carried out detailed surveys and worked with our architects to design an outline masterplan for the site.

“Alongside this we also finalised the agreement to let part of the site to the Department for Education to build this important new school which will allow children requiring this specialist support to stay locally rather than having to travel out of area to access an education.”

The new Oak Tree School is set to open in September 2022 and will accommodate 150 pupils from Wokingham and Reading. It will be built and funded by the Department for Education and managed by the Maiden Erlegh Trust.

The plan for housing includes affordable homes — but the type and number is yet to be decided.

They will also include solar panels, heat pumps and cycle storage.

Winnersh Farm
Winnersh Farm Picture: Phil Creighton

Cllr Prue Bray, Liberal Democrat lead for children’s services, and parish councillor for Winnersh, said the borough desperately needs more school places for children with autism and emotional and mental health needs.

“I have sympathy with the proposal to put such a school at Winnersh Farm – but will need to see the details of the planning application of course, to make sure it is acceptable,” she said.

But she, and Cllr Paul Fishwick, also parish councillor for Winnersh,  said homes should not be built there, and called the plans appalling.

“We have serious concerns over the planned link road that connects to the Taylor Wimpey site,” they said. “They have twice tried to get permission to put hundreds of houses on that land and twice we have fought them off. 

“To find the council actively seeking to help them is appalling.  We have already made it clear to the council that we are more than ready for another fight when this new application goes in.

“This land is outside the settlement area and is not the right place for intensive housing development because of the location and the access.”

Cllr Fishwick, who is also the Lib Dem lead on highways, said he has serious concerns about the traffic generation of the SEND school.

He said: “Traffic already queues to exit Woodward Close at peak time and with the left turn only arrangement introduced around May, future traffic on this part of the Reading Road it is highly likely to be congested for most of the day.”

Feedback can be emailed to commercialproperty@wokingham.gov.uk. The deadline is Friday, April 9.

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